John Perrotto covers both baseball and basketball from the inside for two Prospectus sites.
John Perrotto: Hi everybody. With pitchers and catchers just three weeks from reporting, let's talk some ball.
Frank (Las Vegas): I'm Neal Huntington, now trying to build a solid foundation out of quicksand. What do I do next in '08: keep the team I had last year with hopes of meeting their pre-2007 potential, or ship out older Pirates hoping to get back some buried treasure?
John Perrotto: Frank. Unlike most Pirates' fans, I like what Huntington is doing. Rather than selling off all his players low, he is just sticking with what he has and hoping for either (a) a surprising good season or (b) enough players increasing their value that he can make some trade that will help the club. There is no sense making changes just for the sake of change.
oira61 (San Francisco): John, what's going on with Kyle Lohse? Couldn't he make the rotation of most major-league teams? Where do you think he'll end up?
John Perrotto: Lohse and his agent, Scott Boras, were hoping to hit the jackpot in a thin free-agent market but it didn't happen. He's almost certainly going to have to settle for one year now, which is far cry from the five-year deal he was looking for. I'd say he lands in either Philly or with the Mets.
Or (Dallas): By this time next year, could the Rangers have the top farm system in baseball? We've seen them ranked as highly as second and they likely won't graduate any top prospects this season.
John Perrotto: That's more Kevin Goldstein's department but the Rangers have significantly upgraded their farm system. I don't if it will necessarily be the best next year but it will be up there.
jgalt73 (Portland, OR): In your opinion, is the difference in the numbers of rumors that surface in the press before trades/signings more a function of better placed reporters or of more leaky front offices?
John Perrotto: I'd say better-placed reporters but the big difference is the continued growth of the internet. There were always trade rumors out there in the past, but there wasn't this kind of platform that allowed them to spread so rapidly.
Yoop (Ankeny, IA): John, which is likely more important for Detroit this year: Miguel Cabrera's added offense over Brandon Inge, or Dontrelle Willis successfully adjusting to the AL and posting numbers at least similar to '06 (if not better). Thanks for your thoughts.
John Perrotto: Cabrera's offense. No slight to Willis, who could really help the Tigers, but Cabrera is one of the game's premier hitters. He makes an already-dangerous lineup downright scary.
Nick (NYC): Will the Mets end up with Johan?
John Perrotto: I think they will if they included Fernando Martinez in a deal. It seems that the Twins feel they can really bolster their farm system in a hurry by taking the Mets' offer.
Chris (Pittsburgh): John, I loved your last piece on the Pirates and have loved your work with the BCT (IMO you do a better job than the Pittsburgh beat writers). Anyway, as for my question, do you think the Pirates are doing the right thing by going into rebuilding mode once again? It seems a lot of fans are so tired of losing that they'd rather see a winning team for one year than see the farm rebuilt. Should the Pirates have sunk $20-30 million on their current roster to try and win now?
John Perrotto: Chris, you are very kind and I appreciate the compliment. The problem I have with the idea of the Pirates spending 20-30 M on free agents this winter is that there weren't a lot of guys who could have helped them and 20-30 doesn't buy you what it used to. I'm giving Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington the benefit of the doubt because the organization needs completely rebuild from the bottom up.
Tommy (TheStatPack): It's looking like Willy Aybar/Joel Guzman will open the season at 3rd base for the Rays. Do you think Longoria needs more AAA Ab's or is he ready to start opening day?
John Perrotto: Now that they've acquired Aybar, who could be a real surprise if he has conquered his personal demons, I have no problem with Longoria getting some development time. However, I wouldn't have had a problem with Longoria starting in the big leagues either. However, it can't hurt to buy him a little more time.
Otto (Halifax): Does Jason Bay bounce back? And is Russell Martin now the best Canadian?
John Perrotto: I think Bay bounces back. Perhaps not to his 2006 level but enough to have a very solid year. Yes, I'd have to say Russell Martin is not the best Canadian player, though, despite the Gold Glove, I'd like to see him keep improving behind the plate.
dogtothedog (Toronto): do the jays have any hope of making the playoff in 08
John Perrotto: Yes. Not a great chance but a chance. It's always tough being in the same divison with Yankees and Red Sox but I like the Jays' pitching, I think Rolen will help and I'm sure Wells will get back to star-type level now that his shoulder has been repaired.
James (Ohio): Is Adam Dunn one of the most underrated players in baseball? I think so.
John Perrotto: Dunn is a hard guy to judge in that he does some things really well (hit for power and get on base) and some things not very well (striking out and defense). On the whole, I like him, though. I wouldn't say he is underrated
jeff (atlanta): Are the Dodgers really going to take ABs away from LaRoche, Loney, Kemp & Ethier and give them to Nomar and Pierre? Any word if they're trying to dump either vet?
John Perrotto: They keep saying that 3B, LF and RF are open but my guy feeling is Torre will go with Garciaparra and Pierre to start the season. The Dodgers are stuck with both those guys unless they eat a huge amount of their salaries. Frankly, I'd rather see them play LaRoche, Loney, Kemp and Ethier because all are better players.
Mike (Chicago): brewers 88,cubs 87,astros 81, reds 78, cardinals 70, pirates 67....that seems about right doesn't it?
John Perrotto: I might flip-flop the Astros and Reds. I think Cincinnati will win more game, particularly if Affeldt, Volquez, Bailey or Cueto come through.
DK (NYC): Russell Martin > Erik Bedard?
John Perrotto: Good point but good-hitting catchers are hard to find, so I give Martin a slight edge over Bedard.
Kevin (Fairfax VA): What is Felipe Lopez's actual talent level? Is he the guy who hits 20+ home runs and steals a decent number of bases, or the moping failure of last year? The Nats need him to be the former.
John Perrotto: Reports are that Lopez says he has changed his attitude but we'll see. He certainly has the talent to be a 20/20 guy but he's going to have to prove in spring trianing that he deserve a spot in the lineup over Guzman and/or Belliard.
James Cole (Boston): If Lugo plays like he did last year, do the Sox see Lowrie in an every-day role by July?
John Perrotto: I think it's possible. It's hard to give up on a guy with a4-year, 36-mil contract but the Red Sox have the resources to swallow hard and go with the younger player. The big question for me is if Lowrie can play short at the big-league level. Some scouts say he can, others say he needs to move to second base and that position is obviously occupied.
Otto (Halifax): Now that you've been with BP for a while, what is the most surprising benefit you get from writing here?
John Perrotto: It's given me a chance to take a little broader view of the game, especially from the analysis point of view. It has also allowed me a national _ or since you are from Nova Scotia, I presume _ an international platform to write about the game but also get reader feedback from around the globe, which is neat.
ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi John- Thanks for answering my question. Since O's fans don't have a lot to look forward to, what do you believe can be the peak for Nick Markakis?
John Perrotto: I really like Markakis. I think he's a solid bet to have a lot of 30-homer, 100-RBI years with a decent batting average.
ericturner29 (Chicago): Asdrubal Cabrera: real deal, or flash in the pan?
John Perrotto: Real deal. Not a superstar but a solid big-league middle infielder for many years.
James Cole (Boston): Making a bet... over the next 3 years, I say the Pirates win more games than the Reds. What odds do you give me?
John Perrotto: I'd say Reds are 7-5 favorite to win more games in that span.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Are you guys shocked that Steve Phillips ran a baseball team at one time?
John Perrotto: Can't speak for the rest of the crew but he does say some eyebrow-raising things.
James Cole (Boston): What does the Nats lineup look like at the end of the year? Are Dimitri Young, Nick Johnson, and Wily Mo Pena in it?
John Perrotto: Johnson and Pena, yes. Young, no
basicslop (Albuquerque): Okay swap, the Royals with the Pirates in the NL Central then how does NL Central shape out?
John Perrotto: That's a tough one. I'd say: Cubs, Brewers at the top, Reds, Royals in the middle, Cardinals and Astros fighting for fifth place.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Why is Basketball Propsectus so much more focused on college than the Pros? I need more Renaldo Balkman articles (e.g. why would Jared Jeffried play one minute before Balkman has registered 35). Thanks!
John Perrotto: Basketball Prospectus is still very much a work in progress at this point and I will pass along your suggestion to Joe Sheehan, who is the managing editor. From my standpoint, I do college basketball because of my location here in Pittsburgh. We don't have an NBA team and, thus, I don't follow the league as closely.
KC Royalty (Kansas City): Which Zack Greinke will we see in 2008: the dominating young Saberhagen or Kyle Lohse reincarnate?
John Perrotto: I'd say south of Saberhagen but north of Lohse. I think Grienke will have a fine year but not quite to level of Saberhagen in his Royals days.
James Cole (Boston): Follow-up:
Does Lowrie's glove/bat carry at 3rd? It's always nice to have someone who can play a few infield positions if someone goes down without being a hole in the lineup.
John Perrotto: I think Lowrie would be OK at third for short stretches but certainly not as a long-term answer as his power is a tad short for the hot corner.
Will (Philly): What are your expectation for Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes this year and ofr the future?
John Perrotto: I think the league will catch up to Chamberlain somewhat, which is inevitable, but I still see him as either a good front-line starting pitcher or lockdown set-up reliever this year with the chance to get even better.
I think Hughes will have a few growing pains this year but he seems like a No. 1-type starter in the too distant future.
basicslop (Albuquerque): how come the royals can't find a 1B? Is it the curse of Balboni?
John Perrotto: That sounds like the title of a book. LOL. Seriously, I hadn't really ever thought about this until you mentioned it. If it's not the curse of Bye Bye Balboni then it's surely the curse of Bob "The Hammer' Hamelin.
basicslop (Albuquerque): Where would be the best fit for the ultimate reclamation project, Bartolo Colon?
John Perrotto: Either with a contender that has enough pitching depth to where it could withstand Colon not bouncing back or an also-ran looking to hit the jackpot. Washington seems to be a good place for reclamation projects. I know the Nationals have interest and Jim Bowden is one GM who can never resist a low-risk, high-reward proposition.
Evan (Vancouver, BC): You seem a lot more optimistic (just generally) than the other BP authors. Is that because you're less of a stat-head?
John Perrotto: I hadn't really thought about that but you may have a point. Perhaps a psychologist can chime in here. LOL.
ES (MD): Martin>Morneau?
John Perrotto: Martin by a thin margin.
Otto (Halifax): Is Ed Wade a 'yes' man? Was he hired to be that?
John Perrotto: I wouldn't say Wade is a "yes" man by nature but he's going to have to be if he wants to work very long for Drayton McLane.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): In which season will Derek Jeter's defense be so visibly awful that the pressure to move him somewhere else becomes palpable? Is this going to be an issue for the Yankees? Thanks!
John Perrotto: That day is coming and soon. He turns 34 this year and the lack of defense is going to start showing up this year or next, in my mind.
DMB (NYC): Will the real Chris Capuano please stand up! Will we see the 2006 or 2007 version this spring?
John Perrotto: My gut feeling is 2006. He is a really bright guy and he'll figure things out.
glenihan (nyc): there was a debate that started on a ray's blog and carried over to a yanks blog .. who has more value and who would you rather have going forward B.J. Upton playing CF for you or Robbie Cano manning 2b?
John Perrotto: I'd say Cano because of his position. However, it wouldn't be by a wide margin.
MB (New York, NY): Do you have any favorite sleeper starting pitchers that you envision making a significant jump from marginal SP #5s to potential front-liners akin to Fausto Carmona last year?
John Perrotto: I have a sneaking suspicion Zach Duke of the Pirates is going to have a good year. He is healthy again and has a history with new pitching coach Jeff Andrews from their days together in the minor leagues.
basicslop (Albuquerque): Lohse, A-Rod, Rogers, last year's first rounders, it sure seems that Boras sure has lost a step and not as good as he has been at understanding the market fo his players. Or is it is possible he is working against a stacked deck? I won't say it but it rhymes with folussion.
John Perrotto: I wouldn't say that "C" word either but I thikn everyone knows that almost every executive in baseball loves to stick it to Boras when they have the rare chance.
gary (Los Angeles): Say I have Mauer and Martin on the same team... I believe that Mauer is the better player but Martin is probably a safer bet to stay at catcher. Mauer's value seems to have slipped over the past year. Would you keep both one more year to see if Mauer's value comes back? I don't see how either can lose value this year...
John Perrotto: You just don't see too many guys Mauer's size stay behind the plate for a long time. I think he is a good enough athlete to play elsewhere. So, yes, I'd move Mauer if I had both him and Martin.
dogtothedog (Toronto): Kinda a follow up to the Lowrie questions are there any free agaent shortstops after the 08 season? I can't think of any.
John Perrotto: Here's the list according to Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors:
O. Cabrera, Eckstein, A. Everett, Furcal, Guzman, Izturis, F. Lopez, Renteria (thought Tigers hold an option), J. Urbie, Vizquel (though Giants hold an option).
Joe (DC): Is Ryan Church any good? His name is coming up in connection to Santana rumors...(FMart/Pelfrey/Guerra/Church/Mulvey)
John Perrotto: I'm one of those guys who stubbornly believe that Church would put up really good numbers if given 500 ABs. However, I seem to be in the minority. I haven't heard his name linked in the Santana rumors. That's interesting.
James Cole (Boston): Am I the only person who thinks the Carlos Silva deal wasn't really that bad for the Mariners? In his last 4 years, 1 was poor, 1 was average, and two were above average. He has incredible control, which should make him at least somewhat productive. Three of his last 4 years have been over 5 WARP 3. Is it really so hard to believe that he'll be a 16 win player over the next 4 years? 3 million a win for a team on the brink of contention seems like a pretty good deal.
John Perrotto: You make a very valid point. I didn't think the Silva deal was awful. 4/48 for a pitcher of his ilk is pretty much the going rate these days.
Otto (Halifax): Do the Astros have the worst rotation 2-4 in the history of universe?
John Perrotto: No but it ain't pretty.
Dejan (Bradenton): Why do you hate me?
John Perrotto: I have nothing but love in my heart for you and anyone else who takes the time to join our friendly little chat.
John Perrotto: And that may be the perfect time to close. Thanks so much for all the great questions. Remember, pitchers and catchers right around the corner.